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Flames This Week: 02.11.15

by Torie Peterson / Calgary Flames

RAMO'S RETURN

With Jonas Hiller out of the lineup with a lower body injury, the Flames recalled Karri Ramo from the Stockton Heat last Thursday and the Finn didn't have to wait long for his shot in net.

After Joni Ortio allowed six goals on 31 shots in a 6-2 loss to the Montreal Canadiens on Friday, Bob Hartley turned to Ramo for Saturday's game in Edmonton.

Ramo turned aside 19 of 23 shots he faced at Rexall Place and picked up his first win of the season.

"It feels really good," he smiled. "It was [my] first win of the season. It wasn't necessarily a pretty one but sometimes it goes this way.

"Not a lot of shots but they are definitely really talented at creating scoring chances. I have to learn from those, I have to be better, but what matters the most right now is that we got the win and we have to start building from this."

Given the Flames started the year with a win-and-you're-in system with their netminders, it is likely Hartley will stick with Ramo in net on Tuesday when Calgary visits the Colorado Avalanche.

Ramo went 2-1-0 against the Avalanche in 2014-15, allowing 8 goals on the 82 shots he faced in those three outings.

FRO, YO

Michael Frolik has had his scoring chances throughout the course of the young season but has been denied on the scoresheet ... until Saturday night.

The 27-year-old scored his first three goals of the season -- his first career hat-trick -- in Calgary's 5-4 victory over the Edmonton Oilers at Rexall Place this past weekend. His natural hat trick included the game-winning foal, which came with just 8.7 seconds left in regulation.

Firing a sharp angled shot in a last ditch attempt to get his team a scoring chance in dying seconds of the game, the puck trickled in between Cam Talbot and post.

"I just tried to shoot it over his pad and it went in," he said afterwards. "Kind of a lucky goal, but it was a big one."

The three-goal performance may not only be a spark for Frolik, who had five assists to his name prior to Saturday's affair, but the Flames as a whole. Seeing Frolik get rewarded for his hard work and getting a few lucky bounces has buoyed the team's confidence as they enter their November schedule.

"Momentum is huge," TJ Brodie said. "Hopefully, we can carry on to the next game. Keep building that, keep building confidence, just run with it."

SONG OF ICE AND FIRE

The Flames next challenge comes on Tuesday when they face the Avalanche at 7:00 PM MT at the Pepsi Center in Denver.

This will be the first time the two teams have face off against one another in the regular season but they met twice in the pre-season, with the Flames securing two shutout victories over the Avalanche. Josh Jooris and Jiri Hudler (2) scored for the Flames in the 1-0 and 2-0 wins.

Like the Flames, the Avalanche haven't gotten off to the start they would have liked. After Sunday's setback to San Jose, they are 3-7-1 with a 1-4-1 record at home.

Puck possession has been a big issue for Colorado in the early goings of the season. As of Nov. 1, they rank last in the NHL in shot attempt % close (40%), are last in the NHL in shot attempts (-166), and five of their skaters are in the bottom 10 in the NHL in shot attempts (Nate Guenin: -77, Gabriel Landeskog: -71, Jarome Iginla: -59, Matt Duchene: -58, Nathan McKinnon: -58).

Goaltender Semyon Varlomov also hasn't been at his best thus far this season, posting a 2-5-1 record with a 3.32 GAA and a .891 save percentage.

If the Flames can capitalize on the Avalanche's possession woes and collect a victory in Denver, it would give them a full head of steam heading into a pair of games at the Scotiabank Saddledome.

MAKING HAY AT HOME

While the Flames have struggled in all areas to start the 2015-16 campaign, one particular area that stings is their home record. They have one victory at the Scotiabank Saddledome in October -- an overtime win over the Detroit Red Wings on Oct. 23 that required a late goal from Joe Colborne to push the game into extra time, where captain Mark Giordano scored the game-winner at the 3:12 mark of 3-on-3 action.

That win against Detroit was the loudest the Saddledome has been this season and having the C of Red pouring their support out as the Flames displayed the never-quit attitude they were known for in 2014-15 was an immediate boost to the beleaguered squad, who had lost four straight games prior to that night.

"I thought that was us. I thought that was our game," said Giordano. "We were relentless on the forecheck, we created a lot, we held the puck more in the neutral zone, which was a big key ... We didn’t just throw it up and give it away."

Colborne echoed his captain's thoughts.

"That was Calgary Flames hockey right there. That’s what we were so proud of and what we spent a year-and-a-half, two years building towards. That’s our team right there."

The Flames host two Eastern Conference visitors this week, the Philadelphia Flyers and Pittsburgh Penguins, and those two tilts come right before the team heads out on a four-game road swing. A pair of solid games in their own barn could do wonders for team confidence and help them re-establish the Saddledome as a tough place for opponents to play in.

THE BRODIE FACTOR

It would be perfectly normal if TJ Brodie took a bit of time to get back into the swing of things after missing the first nine games of the year with a broken bone in his hand. Timing, positioning, and getting used to how his hand feels shooting and passing post-injury -- these are are issues any player would be excused for having to adjust to after missing a substantial chunk of time.

Brodie? It didn't look like he missed a practice, let alone weeks of time, when he made his return to the lineup last week.

While he said he was still trying to shake off some rink rust, many felt he was the Flames best defenceman last week and is coming off a one-goal, two point performance against the Oilers on Saturday.

"TJ was skating. It was a fast-paced hockey game and I think that TJ fits right in with this," Hartley said of the 25-year-old's game against the Oilers. "He's such a great skater, such a great puck handler, and he gave us a big game.

"Since he came back, it's like he didn't miss a beat."

In his first two games, Hartley had Brodie paired up with his usual partner, Giordano, but switched things up in Edmonton. Kris Russell skated alongside Brodie against the Oilers and the pair looked comfortable with one another right from puck drop. Given the success they had in Edmonton, the coaching staff may keep them together to start this week.

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